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Weapons charges against Khamas security withdrawn

A case in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s two private security detail Thato Refilwe Kopong and Mike Mareledi Maake were accused of trying to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Palapye, was withdrawn yesterday (Friday), by Magistrate Reuben Sebetela at Palapye Magistrate Court.

On October 4th the accused Kopong and Maake were arraigned before Sebetela on a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon, contrary to section 25 (1) (b) of the Arms and Ammunition Act, No. 19 of 2008. Sometime early this year the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS), through their Director General Peter Magosi reported assassination attempts on President Mokgweetsi Masisi. In his rigours of validating this threat, DIS Director General Magosi indicated that his duty is to protect the President and he will not be shaken.

It later emerged that the men or would be assassins fingered in this attempts want to use a ‘toy gun’ purchased over the counter to kill the President, the court confirmed this week. The court in Palapye heard that the “weapon” in the basis of the charge is actually a paint ball gun, purchased over the counter.

On the same date, the Defence raised an exception to the charge on the basis that the charge does not disclose any offence cognizable by the court, in terms of section 150 (1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The Court ordered that the argument on the exception will be heard on November 8th 2019.

When the case was called on 8th November (yesterday), the Prosecutor was not ready to argue and requested a postponement on the basis that the prosecution was still waiting for legal advice from the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Defence opposed the application for postponement and moved the court to hear the case as ordered on the 4th October. The Magistrate, after hearing a short argument by the Defence, ordered that the case be withdrawn because the State is not ready to prosecute it and declared the two accused persons discharged.

This publication had reported that an unswerving source within the former President’s security detail has revealed that the weapons confiscated by members of the Directorate and Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) at Palapye are described and known as the Tippmann X TiPX. A 68 Caliber Paintball Pistol, which is generally used by the former President’s private security on daily basis while on duty.

One of the accused men Mike Maake, has his resume sprinkled with bouts at the commando unit of the Botswana Defence Force; and being an agent of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS). He is currently an employee of Avante Security Services, where he is on secondment to Khama’s private security detail.

Early this year at a press conference, DIS Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi said it is a fact that the security environment of the country has changed and hence the need to beef up. Brigadier Magosi went on to admit that there is a third force in the Masisi/ Khama feud, alleging that Masisi’s life is under threat. The weapons that could have attempted to end the President’s life have been revealed and when interrogating the make of the said weapons, this publication discovered a TiPX Pistol is a ‘paintball’.

This is a great solo marker or tactical backup sidearm, adding a new dimension to the marksman game. The TiPX also features an under- barrel Picatinny rail, external velocity adjuster and clear ammo windows, so that the user can see if it’s loaded, a removable barrel with A5 threads, ability to add a remote line, and foam lined hard shell carry case.

According to the Khama Security detail source, the weapons can be bought locally at firearms dealer shops and do not require any license. “They are not designed to kill but used in self- defense. This one here costs P 4799. 00 and bought over the counter,” the source said.
According to the TiPX Website, “the all- new Tippmann Arms TIPX offers the general public the same non- lethal tool that security and law enforcement personnel use around the world.

Whether for home defense personal protection, or security, the TIPX delivers the stopping power needed to neutralize the target giving one time to plan their next move or call for backup. Hot pepper rounds burst on impact creating a cloud of dust around the target causing extreme pain and respiratory distress.”  

It further reads: “Whatever was on their mind prior to being hit, is a distant memory. The TIPX uses standard easy-to-find 12 gram CO2 cartridges. The first trigger pull of the TIPX punctures the cartridge powering up the pepper gun. At this time you are now ready to fire and take charge of the situation.”  The TiPX is owned by US Personal Defense Products LLC, the SOLE U.S. Distributor of the JPX in the US and every JPX 2 and JPX 4 are all considered LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products. Every JPX 2 and JPX 4 listed online or found in a retail store are LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products.

Khama’s response;

‘In February some of my private security team were arrested by the police on instructions from DIS (Magosi) for being in possession of weapons (paint ball guns, toys) in Palapye. They were being linked to me in a plan to assassinate Masisi in another state sponsored action to defame me. They were today acquitted of being in possession of weapons. The story by those in the well- known captured media who were told to put out was that these were to be used against Masisi, you may remember.

More dishonesty and lies against me have been exposed as the court ordered the case be withdrawn. I now hope going forward these irresponsible allegations against me will cease. The only assassination attempts that remain are those attempts against my character by the State which are factual, whilst there are those against my person, yet to be proven.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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